Restless legs

Alan J. Robinson robin073 at maroon.tc.umn.edu
Thu Sep 21 08:38:07 EST 1995


On Tue, 19 Sep 1995 15:39:34 -0700, 
Sandra L Wegert   <sandraw at U.Arizona.EDU> wrote:

>My mother has restless legs syndrome.  I also have a less severe version 
>of it.  Does this make sense genetically (am I heterozygous)?  What 
>exactly is the mechanism?  Exercise pretty much keeps it under control 
>for me.  Would some (DA?) drugs help my mother?  Thanks!
>

Sandra:

Re genetics, the conventional picture of genetic disorders (dominant, 
recessive, etc.) does not apply to the broad spectrum of the 
neuropsychiatric immune functional disorders, which would include 
restless legs syndrome.  The reason for this is that there are 
probably a large number of genes involved, many of which only make a 
small contribution - facial appearance is the same way.

Though the evidence is still somewhat circumstantial, many of these 
disorders are probably centered in the diffuse ascending monoaminergic 
pathways from the reticular activating system in the brain stem.  
One function of these pathways is to suppress movement during REM 
sleep.

Dopamine is probably the most important neurotransmitter here, 
so that is what treatment usually centers on.  An important
new development in the treatment of these disorders is the combination 
of dopaminergic and serotonergic agents, as in the phentermine + 
fenfluramine treatment which appears to treat some other conditions 
besides obesity.

AJR




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